By Steve Bateson: It was shattered dreams at the Ice Arena in Hull on Saturday night as Rey Vargas triumphed over Gavin McDonnell to capture the WBC Super Bantamweight Championship by a majority decision.
McDonnell was looking to emulate WBA Bantamweight Champion and brother, Jamie, whilst also making history in becoming the first British brothers to hold world titles simultaneously but the night certainly belonged to the talented Mexican, Vargas, who put himself on the map with a convincing display. The scorecards read 117-111, 116-112 and an inexplicable 114-114 card turned in by Ian John Lewis.
From the outset Vargas displayed fast hands, a slick defence and venomous punches that constantly kept him in charge of the contest and despite a very brave effort from his opponent there was no doubt at the end who the champion was. Vargas looked huge at the Super Bantam limit and his left hook to the body is a sickening signature shot that would have put paid to lesser willed men.
McDonnell and his trainer, Dave Coldwell’s tactics were obvious; to play the long game and hopefully tire and frustrate the travelling rival as the contest progressed but their plan never came to fruition as Vargas landed classy combos and stiff jabs whilst slipping and riding any momentum that the Doncaster based fighter tried to mount.
It would be easy, as an observer, to pinpoint where McDonnell could have improved to stand a better chance but that would be doing a disservice to the talent of Rey Vargas, who completely outgunned his foe in all departments. Swelling under both eyes and a cut across the bridge of the nose were good enough indicators of the punishment that McDonnell had sustained throughout the bout but not once did he look like wilting under the pressure, it’s fair to say nobody will question his heart or determination despite the defeat.
It was a good fight that caught a little more fire in the championship rounds as it became obvious that McDonnell needed a stoppage in order to claim the green belt but even with him on the front foot from round seven and onwards the new champion was never in any danger and all in all it was a comprehensive victory.
Gavin McDonnell (now 16-1-2) can come again, he was nowhere near out of his depth at this level, whilst the Nacho Beristain trained Rey Vargas (still undefeated at 29-0 with 22 KO’s) can set his sights upon his first title defence later in the year.
In the chief support to the main event; Luke Campbell demolished Jairo Lopez within two rounds of their WBC Silver Lightweight Championship bout. From the opening bell Campbell was the epitome of accuracy, timing and punch power as he took care of a limited but game opponent. Lopez was buzzed within seconds of the first round and he never really recovered despite showing the heart and determination to reach the bell. Campbell could not miss with the left hand to the temple and jaw as Lopez stooped and overreached in an attempt to close the distance but it was a highlight reel left uppercut, as Lopez was ducking inside, that finished the fight. Campbell (now 16-1 with 13 KO’s) showed he has learned a lot since his 2015 loss to Yvan Mendy, a fight in which he struggled to contain his foe’s swarming style, and a re-match with the Frenchmen would be ideal preparation ahead of a potential world title tilt in late 2017. The Olympic gold medalist has all the tools to challenge the top fighters at 140lbs and his high ranking with the WBC should see him in with the elite before the year is out.
Hull’s own Tommy Coyle scored a huge right hand KO over Rakeem Noble in the third round of a super lightweight contest. Coyle (now 23-4 with 11 KO’s) has a habit of toe to toe battles and this one was no different, for as long as it lasted. Noble, coming in at three weeks’ notice for the injured Kofi Yates, attempted to use his superior height to keep Coyle at bay and a few well timed chopping rights had Coyle’s eye swelling as we entered the second. But Noble has a tendency to stand tall, hanging his chin in the air, and he finished the second stanza on wobbly legs after a head and body barrage, including a left hook and big overhand right. The minute in the corner wasn’t long enough for Noble to recover and the first clean shot he took in round three, an explosive short range right, had him on the deck. He managed to reach his feet but the referee deemed the Southern Area Champion in no position to continue. Coyle has his heart set on becoming British Champion and his fan-friendly, vulnerable style will guarantee plenty more exciting bouts in the near future.
There were also stay busy victories for British Bantamweight Champion, Ryan Burnett and Heavyweight David Allen whilst perennial journeyman William Warburton shocked undefeated prospect Connor Seymour with a second round KO in a super welterweight contest.